It may seem illogical to step down as the Dean of the Maynooth Deanery over an issue that is neither specifically my own nor diocesan. However, justice has no frontiers.
In this case it is the disrespectful and unjust treatment of Fr Tony Flannery that moves me to this action.
I would like to thank the Deanery members for electing me on the last two occasions to what is a gender-inclusive and dynamic Deanery. I am indebted to Ellie McKeown (Office of Evangelisation) for her formative and continuing work with the Parish Pastoral Councils of the Deanery. Bishop Raymond Field, the area bishop, has at all times been an encourager of Deanery initiatives. The Archbishop gives confidence to Deaneries to take greater responsibility for witnessing to the Gospel through Deanery co-responisibility in our diocese.
It is extremely distressing and depressing the manner in which Fr Flannery has been dealt with by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I was ordained nearly 33 years ago and can say with certitude, that if the truth were told, some of his views are shared by many Priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin. It is a sad reflection on the rights of the person and the pre-eminence of conscience that a man of such integrity, kindness and stature is treated in such a manner. Of course, he is not the first and perhaps will not be the last to be thus treated as Rome is a law unto itself.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe, in a recent reflection on the 2nd Vatican Council, spoke of Pope Paul VI’s profound sense of the need for dialogue between the Church and the world but was nervous of enshrining dialogue in the core of its government. We now live in a Church where courage is silenced by fear, and one can only reflect that the Gospel we cherish and struggle to live seems to be a “dead letter” within Vatican bureaucracy.